Traders in the seaside town of Newcastle have said they enjoyed a busy day yesterday as it hosted the Mourne District Twelfth of July parade.
Around 20,000 spectators turned out to watched 6,000 Orangemen from 15 local lodges march.
The parade left Donard Park at 12pm, making its way around the town, before returning to the park for an address from Orange grand secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson.
There was also singing from mezzo-soprano Emma Brown.
A barman at Hugh McCann’s pub on Central Promenade said it had been “absolutely jiving”.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“Our beer garden was swarmed. It was 100% and there was not one problem during the day.
“Everybody was so friendly, though it was a bit chaotic behind the bar at times.”
Michael Nugent, whose family owns ice cream parlour Nugelato and The Strand Cafe on Central Promenade, said it had been a strong day for business in the town.
Speaking at around 5.30pm as the parade made its return journey from Donard Park, he said: “It’s been very, very busy and you can hear the bands as we speak.
“The town is packed with people and it’s a real festival atmosphere.”
He likened the atmosphere to the spirit in the town during the annual Festival of Flight in early August.
“It’s just like it is for the airshow. It’s a very happy-go-lucky day and everyone is enjoying themselves.”
He said the parade had brought all-day trade.
“It was very, very busy for breakfasts first thing, as they came early, ate early and then went and got their seats for watching the parade. Now the streets are lined with people watching the bands, so we’ll be hoping they come in afterwards.”
Mr Nugent’s grandfather started Strand Cafe in 1930, while his son Michael and wife Catriona have set up the ice cream parlour Nugelato in the town.
Peter Law, a past president of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and owner of Main Street jewellers HF Law, said he had stayed open for the parade.
“As traders we all believe it’s important to be open when events like this are on as it enhances the appearance of the town,” he said. “Certainly the parade went off very successfully. Upwards of 50,000 people would have been in the town, from bandsmen to spectators.
“There were huge crowds and the weather was kind to them. Newcastle is very well-equipped for large scale events now.”
He said retail businesses like his own tended to be less busy on days where people are in the town for festivals or events.
“Most retail businesses would be busier on a wet Tuesday in November, but the cafés, restaurants, bars and ice cream places all did a good trade,” he said.
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